You might remember that I wrote a fairly lengthy post in which I assessed all that had been said and observed and reached the conclusion that Kevin Lopina would be the starter at quarterback when the season kicked off on Sept. 5.
Well, Paul Wulff and offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy are doing their best to make me look silly.
When asked if Lopina and Marshall Lobbestael were even in the race to start, Sturdy told Howie Stalwick: "Yep." He later reiterated that stance with Vince Grippi over the weekend: "I just talked with the kids, and right now it is a dead heat."
However, I refuse to look silly.
What else is Sturdy supposed to say? True, coaches sometimes will come out and say that one guy's got the edge over the other guy, but that's usually done in the context of motivating the guy who's behind, or to give a little vote of confidence to the guy in front. That doesn't seem to be an issue here, as Lobbestael has worked his tail off to get where he is, and Lopina seems to be a guy who plays better with a chip on his shoulder.
Besides, what's it hurt to give Lobbestael every chance in the world to win the job? We all know that all things being equal, any coaching staff worth its salt would go with the younger guy who has a chance to help the program for multiple years. If both Lopina and Lobbestael give the team the same chance to win, it's a no-brainer to pick Lobbestael.
Thus, the "dead heat" pronouncement fits perfectly here, whether it's the truth or not. There's absolutely no reason to give the edge to one guy or the other at this point -- no advantage to be gained. Game planning for Stanford doesn't begin for another week, and since 50 percent of the receiving corps is injured anyway, it's not like the No. 1 guy could use 75 percent of the reps to work to get on the same page with those starters.
Because of all this, I've seen nothing to sway me from my original stance. I believe Lopina will be named the starter sometime this week, as everything continues to point to him. Even Grippi offers up this assessment:
If the competition were going to be decided solely by who was throwing the ball better in practice, especially in scrimmage situations, Kevin Lopina would be the guy, as far as I can tell.
Now, Grippi does go on (rightly) to say there are many other facets to quarterbacking that will play into the ultimate decision. But those are attributes at which Lopina seemed to have the edge all along. The one place where Lobbestael had the chance to distinguish himself is with his arm, and that doesn't seem to be happening. That Lopina is throwing the ball better in scrimmage situations seems to reinforce the notion that he's got the edge in the mental part of the game, too.
Could we be surprised? I suppose. But I don't think we're going to be.